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Wednesday, 30 October 1974
Page: 2176

Senator WHEELDON (Western AustraliaMinister for Repatriation and Compensation) - There was a story that used to circulate around the Senate a few years ago- I do not know what truth there was in it and could not vouch for it- that after the Senate adjourned at night Senator Greenwood would hide under the table and when the attendants had gone would come out, turn on the lights and stay here all night speaking. Whether he did this or not I do not know but certainly it would be preferable to what he has done tonight in keeping the rest of us here having to listen to him. I suppose that one has to take up some time dealing with what he has been telling us tonight. Senator Webster is trying to interject. He has had an opportunity to speak, but if he would like me to sit down so that he can speak again I will do so; otherwise I would like to get this over so that we can all get home where we should have been a long time ago.

Senator Rae - Say something.

Senator WHEELDON - I will say plenty. The proposition has been put forward that the Government set out deliberately to destroy the Constitutional Convention by proposing an additional Government member in place of the one of the 3 senators to whom the Opposition was entitled and that that Government member apparently was Senator Hall. I understand that this is what happened. The Liberal Party heroically opposed it and some malicious journalist, who apparently had not carried out the instructions of his employer, wrote an article which was critical of Senator Greenwood and therefore he would have to denounce this journalist to the Senate.

Senator Poyser - He is a very little man, really.

Senator WHEELDON -Thank you. This is the nonsense that has kept us here for the best part of three-quarters of an hour. Senator Greenwood has talked about who constitutes the Opposition. I would like to have a look back at the days when the Liberal and Country Parties were the government and at how they set about appointing the membership of committees. Let us take as one example the Senate Select Committee on Securities and Exchange, How was that constituted by the previous Government? It was constituted by having 3 members of the Liberal Party, 1 member of the Australian Country Party- that is, 4 Government members- 3 members of the Australian Labor Party and 1 member of the Democratic Labor Party. It is said that Senator Steele Hall on occasions votes with the Labor Party, which he does. I will come back to Senator Steele Hall in a moment because I think that something ought to be said about him for the edification of Senator Greenwood. If it can be said that because Senator Steele Hall sometimes votes with the Labor Party, which he does, that makes him in some way not a member of the Opposition, what can be said about the DLPthe Party that kept the Liberal and Country Parties in office for 17 years? Is it going to be suggested seriously that in some way Senator Steele Hall is not part of the Opposition whereas the DLP was part of the Opposition?

Let us have a look at another committee- the so-called Senate Select Committee on the Civil Rights of Migrant Australians- and see how Senator Greenwood and his friends constituted it. In fact that Committee was constituted while the Australian Labor Party was in Government It was set up as a kangaroo court to pre-judge the issue. How was it set up? It comprised 1 member of the Liberal Party, 1 member of the Australian Country Party, 1 jocularly described independent from Tasmania- Senator Townley- 1 member of the DLP and 3 members of the Australian Labor Party. That was 4 members of the Opposition to 3 members of the Government. That was the record of Senator Greenwood in dealing with these matters.

If this matter was so serious, if it was such an affront to the Liberal and Country Parties, can the Opposition inform us why it was that not one voice was raised in the House of Representatives when that proposition was put there? Why was it that Mr Snedden, Mr Lynch, Mr Anthony and Mr Sinclair did not discover this sinister plot that Senator Greenwood has been able to flush out tonight in all this fury at the impudence of a newspaper reporter in criticising him? It was because members of the House of Representatives who belong to the Opposition Parties and who obviously are becoming just as fed up with Senator Greenwood as are members of the Senate who have to listen to him every day, did not think that such a preposterous point could be sustained because the practice has been to have 3 members from the Government and 3 members from the Opposition. Three members were allocated to the Opposition. Senator Steele Hall is either in the Government or he is in the Opposition, and he is not in the Government. He is a member of, the, Opposition, and much more a member of the Opposition that the Democratic Labor, Party ever was while, the Liberal, and Country Parties were in office. ,

I would like to say something' about Senator Steele -Hall as the matter has been raised.'The trouble with Senator Greenwood is that he is really a very primitive person. What he has hot been able to understand is that unless somebody behaves like one of Pavlov's dogs-.-

Senator Webster - He does not have the reputation of leaving the Liberal Party as you did. " Senator WHEELDON- I. find it very difficult to follow Senator Webster's. interjections but if he would like to raise them another night on the adjournment debate we could deal with him. Senator Greenwood believes that somebody who does not have a reaction like one of Pavlov's dogs-a knee jerk reaction- every time Labor is mentioned, or social security is mentioned, or Russia is mentioned, or China is mentioned, has a seizure, cannot be a member of the Opposition to this Government. I can assure honourable senators- and I speak as a socialist and make no denial of being a socialist - -

Senator Webster - You were once a member of the Liberal Party.

Senator WHEELDON - Yes, I once was a member of the Liberal Party, and I grew. up. I was a very silly young man. I would rather be a silly. young man than a silly. old man, of whom there are many in this chamber. A number, of consistent, philosophical, theoretical positions can be put with a certain measure of clarity.

Senator Jessop - You are a failure.

Senator WHEELDON -! did hot say they could be put by Senator Jessop, but one could put them. .There are certain . theoretical, philosophical positions which can be put with logic and clarity and with some system which take a position different from that of the Australian Labor Party. As it happens, and as it is late at night and no one will report this debate to the Press and only a handful of people who read Hansard will ever discover that we were sitting in the middle of the night, I think it should be said that Senator Hall really is the most dangerous opponent that the Australian Labor Party has.

Senator Jessop - Hear, hear!

Senator WHEELDON - I am interested to hear Senator Jessop say hear, hear, because Senator Hall puts forward a systematic, consistent, theoretical position. I think he would be more dangerous than he is if there were people with more political understanding in- the Opposition parties. I think that most of them though are Pavlov's dogs like Senator Greenwood. 1 do not think they can understand a consistent theme of private enterprise laissez-faire: libitarianism, if I may use that expression, of the kind Senator Hall puts to us. This is probably what they find so bewildering about him. This is why the indigation of somebody like Senator Greenwood raises itself whenever Senator Hall's name, is mentioned. We have had our time wasted tonight by the antics of Senator GreenWoOd.'I only' hope that in the future he will follow his bid practice, hide under' the table and speak after everybody else has gone and not inflict on the rest of lis the agony of listening to the nonsense he has- made us listen to this evening. ; . . ;

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